Granular materials are widely used in industrial processes despite their complex and poorly understood mechanical behaviour both in static and dynamic regimes. A prototypical example is the settlement and compaction of a granular bed under vibrational loading. The elementary mechanisms of this process are still unclear and there is presently no established theory or methodology to predict the settlement and its statistical variability. By means of a parametric study, carried out on a full-scale track, and a critical analysis of density relaxation laws, we introduce a novel settlement model in coarse granular materials under cyclic loading. Our extensive experimental data indicate that the settlement process is governed by three independent parameters strongly correlated with the vibration intensity and initial packing fraction. We show that the mean settlement is well predicted by the model with its parameter values extracted from experimental data.